Frank Solich has had an uneasy relationship with Nebraska since his controversial firing as the university's head football coach in 2003.
Now the coach at Ohio University, Solich will return to the state in January to receive the fifth annual Tom Osborne Legacy Award as part of the Outland Trophy Award Dinner.
The Football Writers Association of America revealed the choice of Solich on Friday, and it will have special significance for both the state and Solich -- given that he was Osborne's choice to succeed him as coach of the Cornhuskers 20 years ago.
"First as a player, then as an assistant, and finally as the head coach of the Cornhuskers, Frank Solich has been part of the fabric of Nebraska's highly successful football history," said FWAA executive director Steve Richardson, per the Lincoln Journal-Star. "What better person to honor than one of Tom Osborne's proteges who has transferred his ability to coach winning football to Ohio University. Frank Solich certainly needs no introduction to Cornhusker football fans, given his excellent track record during the past six decades."
A longtime assistant under Osborne at Nebraska, Solich guided the Cornhuskers to a 58-19 record over six seasons (1998-2003). Nebraska lost to Miami in the 2001 BCS national title game and won the Big 12 with a 12-1 record in 1999 -- the school's last conference championship.
Yet Solich, who also played fullback for Nebraska from 1963-65, was fired by then-athletic director Steve Pederson following a 9-3 record in 2003.
Solich was hired by Ohio in 2005 and led the Bobcats to nine bowl games and four appearances in the Mid-American Conference championship game.
"From Tom's thinking, which is also our committee's thinking, the timing is right to honor and bring back coach Solich for this national award," said Bob Mancuso, chairman of the Outland committee.
Previous winners of the Osborne Legacy Award were former Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer and former Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden.